Week 40 Review

The Ataris – Anywhere But Here (1997)

Bottom Line Up Front: This is a 4.0 out of 5 stars album. I know. I know. Another pop punk band crying about relationships. Enough already. But The Ataris do a really good job of mixing things up and Kris Roe has a keen musical sense that makes him smarter than your average pop punker. It’s worth your time.

Artist BackgroundFor all intent and purposes, The Ataris is Kris Roe. He’s the only constant member of the band for it’s entire history since it started in Anderson, Indiana in 1995. The first album (this one) didn’t happen until their demo tape made it’s way to the owner of Kung Fu Records by way of Bogart’s (Cincinnati, Ohio). There’s been 20 members since 1995, so saying they have had some lineup changes is a bit of an understatement. Regardless, Kris has stuck through it all, even when he had no money, was living out of his van in California, and everyone had quit the band. Yet, he still kept pressing on. His commitment paid off as subsequent albums grew in popularity to the point where it peaked with 2003’s So Long, Astoria, which was certified gold. They are currently performing on the Blue Skies, Broken Hearts tour with the line up from the So Long, Astoria era.

Album Background: Anywhere But Here is very traditional punk album in terms of timing as it blows through 20 tracks in a little over 32 minutes. Most of these pop punk tracks last well under 2 minutes. The Wikipedia entry says Kris did everything but the drums, which was handled by Derrick Plourde, for this album. I have no idea how accurate this is, as Jasin Thomason didn’t leave the band until after ABH was released. Also, the credits refer to a member that didn’t join until after the album was released. So I’m not sure what to believe. It really needs to be pointed out that I am talking about the 1997 original release of this album. Kung Fu Records decided to re-release the album in 2002, which happens all the time with early albums when a band gains significant popularity. I’m not certain if it was an effort to make the album sound similar to their current albums or what, but I know that I absolutely hate the 2002 version with every fiber of my being. They changed the track listing completely, added horrible reverb to every track, and created a wall of sound by destroying the original dynamics. I very much appreciate the more raw sound of the 1997 release, and the track order makes more sense to me with the nearly all instrumental track, 1-2-3-4, being the opener.

My anger only intensified with how I discovered this hellish creation. I wanted a higher bit-rate version of the album than the one in my collection. Being the impatient person I am, I bought and downloaded the MP3 album from Amazon without double checking anything. “What the fudge is this?” was the only question that ran through my head as I started up the album on my way to work. I wish it had been a CD so I could have tossed it out of the car window onto the side of the highway like an old bag of McDonald’s*.

*=Not really. I hate when people litter. They’re a bunch of littering jackasses. Please don’t litter.

Favorite Track: This pick should be the incredibly infectious Hey, Kid! but it isn’t. Despite Hey, Kid! being proclaimed by many (most notably and recently by my editor) to be my official theme song with the eerily close to reality chorus of “Bitch, bitch, bitch. That’s all you ever do,” I’m actually choosing a different song. Instead I am going with the 19th track, Boxcar, which is a cover of a Jawbreaker song that was originally released in 1994 on the album, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. While Kris didn’t write the song it speaks very highly of his sensibilities to include a cover of one of my favorite punk songs of all-time. The Ataris version is dialed back a bit compared to the original version, but I think the song is better off for it. Boxcar, from what I can tell, is a swipe at those who like to say who is punk and who is not. The whole idea of having to strictly adhere to a code of conduct to be punk seems ridiculous because mindlessly regurgitating the punk ideals and principles of others leaves you back at where you started before you entered into the punk subculture. This idea is best expressed in the line of the chorus “I was passing out when you were passing out your rules.” It’s worth listening to for sure.

What Works: 

  • Intro I love the opening track of this album. It start’s with a quick count off then goes full throttle on the guitars and drums for the remaining 40 or so seconds. To me, it’s an iconic moment for punk music. To other listeners, it’s might be that annoying 40 seconds before the album really begins. Maybe that’s why Kung Fu Records pushed it back to end of the record for the re-release. Huge mistake, but it’s just one of many by Kung Fu when they redid everything.
  • 1950s Much of the time, I felt like I was listening to a pop punk Buddy Holly album. Kris has such a keen sense of what makes a good classic pop song. You can clearly hear the influence of early rock and roll acts throughout the album. Speaking of which, I think Buddy Holly was one of the earliest punks in music as he was one of the first musicians to start writing their own material instead of relying on others. Even the standard punk band setup of a vocalist, two guitarists and a drummer was first popularized by Mr. Holly.  Listening to this album also reminded me of the reviews of punk songs by Chuck Berry. He basically asks what’s the big deal with punk because he’s been playing this kind of music for years. And he’s absolutely right.
  • Maturity I think Kris’s level of writing was incredibly mature for a first release. I make my case with the song Take Me Back which is a wonderful satirical take on breakup songs. On this song, the boy begs his girlfriend to take him back while listing all of the wrongs he committed against her in the previous relationship. The song takes it to an absurd level by including things such as cheating 15 times, standing her up on their wedding day, giving her an STD, telling everyone they had sex while on TV and last, but not least, blowing up her car. In a world overflowing with whiny pop punk guys wishing their exes would take them back, this song is incredibly refreshing. He knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote it.

What Doesn’t:

  • Too Many or Too Little Towards the last third of the album, things start blending together. I think a lot of this has to do with how quickly they are blowing through songs. You don’t always have enough time to appreciate the song before the next one starts up. While I was taking notes, some of the songs didn’t have any notes because I didn’t have enough time to think of anything to write. If I don’t have enough time to write anything at all, does the listener have time to get anything out of the song? I know very short songs are a staple of pop punk, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any negatives to this approach. Would a 40 minute album with some of the songs extended out a little longer have been better? Maybe. But unlike Kung Fu Records, I don’t think there is any reason to screw with an album to make it “better” than what it was.

In Conclusion: I really like this album. It’s a solid pop punk effort. If you are going to listen to it, I implore you to hunt down a copy of the 1997 release. The easiest way to find the original CD is probably eBay, where you can get a better description of what you are specifically buying from the seller. It’s also great because you can see pictures of the album art in the jewel case since the 2002 version also uses different album art. So it should be really easy to pick out.

Music Video Links:
I couldn’t find any official music videos. Sorry.

Streaming/Purchase Links:
Amazon Music (2002 Version!)
Google Play (2002 Version!)
iTunes (2002 Version!)
XBOX Music (2002 Version!)
Spotify (2002 Version!)

Information Links:
Wikipedia Artist
W
ikipedia Album
Facebook
Twitter
Official Site

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Week 26 Review (Revised)

St. Vincent – Actor (2009)

St._Vincent_-_Actor

Bottom Line Up Front: This is a 4 out of 5 stars album that you’re going to want to check out. It’s an interesting mix of the indie, pop and classical genres with a very high replay value due to enigmatic lyrics.

Artist BackgroundThe woman behind St.Vincent is Annie Clark. She dropped out of Berklee College of Music after 3 years so she could start her professional career. It seemed to be a smart move on her part because she is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and a highly skilled composer.

Album Background: The album, Actor, is described as indie pop/baroque pop. It runs about 40 minutes with 11 tracks. Clark wrote it while watching lots of movies including many Disney films. The songs actually came from soundtracks she imagined for scenes from the movies she watched. She would then add the lyrics for it. The album was well received by many critics and made quite a few end of the year lists.

Favorite Track: My favorite track is The Bed. It’s the 8th track on the album and is 3 minutes and 43 seconds long. St. Vincent’s use of contrasting ideas and sounds is prevalent throughout the album. I think she does a particularly good job on this track where she combines the viewpoint of young children with gun violence. The track begins with a pair of siblings hiding underneath one of their beds with their “dear daddy’s Smith and Wesson” ready to shoot and kill monsters. It’s a rather disturbing image but the track itself is very soft and laid back with her soothing voice and a guitar being gently picked. Further playing off the innocence of children to enhance the contradictions, many of the lyrics make references to common gun expressions includings “the whites of their eyes” which was made famous at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 and “put your hands up” and “stop or I’ll shoot” which have probably been said at least once in every cop show ever made. This is just one example of where St. Vincent is masterful in mixing ingredients that don’t normally belong together to give the listener something new and delicious.

What Works: 

  • Juxtaposition Both in her music and lyrics, Annie creates contrasts that are often quite jarring to the listener. In the opening track, The Strangers, after nearly 2 and a half minutes of her beautiful voice painting the black hole blacker and luscious multi-layered instrumentation, a blaring distorted guitar rips into the music. These contrasts only further enhance the qualities of the dissimilar approaches and strengthens her music overall.
  • Mystery Even though I’ve listened to this album countless times over the past week, I’ve had a hard time actually deciphering what the lyrics mean. And this is a great thing. I love lyrics like this. I love it when they are very specific yet open to interpretation for those willing to dig into them. Actor would probably end up on my Desert Island list because of this.
  • Tension In Black Rainbow, there is a wonderful crescendo that builds slowly and patiently using violins and distorted guitars. At some point, you’re really not sure if it’s ever going to come to a climax but eventually it collapses and you can finally start breathing again. It’s relentless attack reminds me of I Want You (She’s So Heavy) by The Beatles.
  • Clockwork There is a lot of repetition in this album that works quite well. Multiple times, St. Vincent will switch between a phrase and a lyric like in The Strangers or alternate with sound processing like in Laughing with a Mouth of Blood. At other times, the instruments feel more like I’m listening to the rhythmic ticking of a clock more than anything such as in Marrow.

What Doesn’t:

  • Variation There isn’t a huge amount of variety between songs even if each song is well-crafted. Sometimes the tempo is mixed up to give it an almost dance song quality such as in Actor Out of Work. But I still feel the tracks on the album blend together more than I would like. This might be a side effect of the way the album was put together by starting out as mini-soundtracks for individual scenes from movies.

In Conclusion: Annie obviously put a lot of thought into the music and I seriously doubt that there is a word or note that wasn’t carefully dissected before it was left in its final resting place. Actor is exactly what it should be. And you’ll most likely notice more and more little details each time you listen to it such as the silence used in The Bed or the wonderfully slow build up in Just the Same But Brand New.

Music Video Links:
St. Vincent – Out of Work Actor (Official Video)
St. Vincent – Marrow (Official Video)

Streaming/Purchase Links:
Amazon Music
Google Play
iTunes
XBOX Music
Spotify

Information Links:
Wikipedia Artist
W
ikipedia Album
Facebook
Twitter
Official Site

Week 22 Review (End of Summer Blow Up 1)

Rhymesayers hip hop artist, Grieves, is the reason End of Summer Blow Up was started. To start it off, I’m reviewing his latest album, Winter & the Wolves. Grieves has been releasing albums since 2007.

Artist: Grieves { Benjamin Laub aka Grieves, Brad Lewis aka B. Lewis}
Album: Winter & the Wolves [Deluxe Version]
Year: 2014
Genre: Hip-hop
Rating: 4.5/5

Worth Your Time? Absolutely. Don’t you want to say you listened to him before he got big? Feed your little inner-hipster and listen to this indie rapper.

Twitter Review: Grieves’ razor sharp wordplay will slice you wide open as B. Lewis backs him up with intricate but highly accessible beats.

Note: I am using Grooveshark for everything except where Grieves has an official video on YouTube.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. How’s It Gonna Go
  2. Recluse
  3. Woah is Me

Things to Look For:

  • Fantastic Opening Line. After the chorus opens Woah is Me, Grieves starts out with “My dog died.” and a voice answers back “When you were six!” Grieves replies “Really? I guess I never gotten over it.” After listening to a couple songs, in recent memory, where the musician composes beautiful songs about their pet, Grieves approach comes off as the antistasis of that. It made me smile every time I heard it.
  • Poet First, Emcee Second. Okay, so he probably didn’t start out writing poetry. Or maybe he did. I don’t know. But I do know from listening to this album that Grieves is working on a higher level than your typical rapper. His word choices are potent. He can take the word ‘shit’ and make it sound so harsh and crass because of the words he surrounds around it. In How’s It Gonna Go, after opening with a beautiful and heartfelt chorus, Grieves lays “Until the woman of my dreams took a shit inside my soul” on us and it comes across as shocking because of the vulgarity. I was actually taken back the first time I heard it. In the same song, he delivers another one of my favorite lines “This ain’t love, this is two people fucking…each other over.” Here he creates a multi-layered lyric that captures both the concept of making love vs. having sex and the notion of negative relationship doomed for failure. And it’s all done with a simple pause. In Kidding Me, he says “Cinderella got drunk started spreading her thighs” which takes this pure and innocent idea in your head and absolutely obliterates it. It’s beautiful. His poetic skillset combined with his compelling storytelling, make for an awesome combination that rarely fails to deliver.
  • Repetition. Grieves skillfully makes use of repetition throughout the album. He does this both in the words he chooses and the cadence of his delivery. In Serpents, the first and second verse are identical in structure and delivery despite being a completely different set of words. Supposedly, this song is about Grieves dealing with his sister’s drug addiction. The topic of drug addiction has been covered countless times in music but I don’t know if anybody has done it so masterfully as Grieves has done here. I had my own little Keanu moment when I realized what was going on.
  • Pop Friendly. Grieves’ previous albums were done with long time friend, Budo. Budo’s beats were definitely unique and created this wonderful smoke-filled blues bar atmosphere that I loved, but I think they were too laid back for your average listener. By teaming up with B. Lewis, the album becomes infinitely more accessible due to Lewis’ new, more poppier style. In fact, all three of the top songs made the list because the beat put them ahead of the other tracks. I usually get annoyed when an artist goes pop, but I’m incredibly excited about whatever Grieves and Lewis end up doing next.
  • Anti-Bruno Mars. Recluse is quite similar to the popular The Lazy Song in terms of high level concept but Grieves’ takes it to a far darker and grittier place. He is letting you inside of his head as he tries desperately to shut out his world regardless of the path of destruction it ends up leaving. After listening to Recluse, The Lazy Song seems incredibly shallow in comparison. It’s still a fun song though. You know you secretly sing it in the shower. Or was that me?

Low Points: I’ve probably already hammered the point home that I love that this album because it is more accessible than his past ones. But think it would gain an even wider audience if it was a bit shorter. While listening to it, I noticed some common themes between songs and I think I would rather have had him cut out the the similar songs and went with a less is more kind of approach. Perhaps this feeling could have been avoided, if I didn’t listen to the deluxe version which had two bonus songs on it. It remains a fantastic album regardless. I left out a ton of songs I wanted to talk about.

Anything Else: Grieve’s previous album, Together/Apart, is actually the great grand-daddy of all Project Lt. Morning albums. I spent the majority of my weekends one summer pulling out weeds from the yard by hand. While pulling weeds, I listened to that album on repeat for 3-4 hours at a stretch. The music combined with the repetitious work created an almost meditative state for me. It was probably the only time in my life I looked forward to yard work.

Additional Links:

Week 21 Review

This week I’m reviewing Acme 143 by Houston skate punk band, 30footFALL. The album was released in 1997 and finally put the band on the pop punk map following a set of well received records.     

5

Artist: 30footFALL {James “Butch” Klotz – vocals; Chris “Delron” LaForge – guitar, backing vocals; Rubio Cisneros – bass, backing vocals; Damon Delapaz – drums}
Album: Acme 143
Year: 1997
Genre: Skate Punk
Rating: 4/5

Worth Your Time? For those who want to know more about pop punk than just Blink-182’s MTV years. (Not knocking Blink-182.)

Twitter Review: While not unique, 30footFALL accurately demonstrates all the qualities that made me fall in love with punk in the first place on Acme 143.

Note: I did not use YouTube this time for links because I had a hard time finding every track I wanted to mention. Instead, I decided to use Grooveshark for everything.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Cheese
  2. Entertainment vs. Enlightenment
  3. Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me

Things to Look For:

  • Snarky Punk Attitude. Butch does a great job with the lyrics (and vocals) as he balances social commentary with bathroom humor. He isn’t afraid to point out issues within the punk community with songs like Entertainment vs. Enlightenment, Punk Rocks in Your Head and Bad Hair Day Punks to challenge the audience as they bounce around in the mosh pit. But he keeps them bouncing with songs like Cheese and Constipation. The punk genre is interesting because it highly encourages thinking for yourself instead of adopting values of given group or society at large. This is plainly illustrated in the song, People Are Stupid. But even 30footFALL would be incredibly disappointed if you blindly adopted their world view. Analysis and introspection are critical components of being a good punk.
  • Best Insult Ever. Halfway through Cheese, Butch starts delivering a monologue about a girl who insulted his music while he was at work. He hurls back devastating weird insults towards her like “Your momma got gold nipples” but then he goes in for the kill and drops the atomic bomb with “You got a rip in your couch” which is followed a menacing deep growl as the song temporarily switches to nu metal territory. Ripping on her couch is without a doubt my favorite moment on the album. It makes me smile every time I hear it.
  • Movie Quotes. The album opens up with a quote from Girls Just To Have Fun on Urine Nation, does two quotes from Friday on Constipation and has a quote from Saturday Night Fever on Bad Hair Day Punks. Interestingly (or maybe not), all three movies feature actors that would see serious success later on in their careers. This group of actors include Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Tucker and John Travolta.
  • Weirdest Chorus Ever Sung in My Car. Feel Like Morrissey is a very catchy tune on the album. It even has the obligatory hand claps. While driving, I couldn’t help but sing along to the chorus every time it was playing which was “Band-aids on my nipples cause I feel like Morrissey.” Besides a unique chorus, it oddly also features a flute solo. 30footFALL really does do what they want.

Low Points: I really did enjoy listening to this album all week. I was worried that now that I’m in my 30s that I would start to lose that connection I had with punk in college. I’m happy to report it is as fun and inspiring as ever. However, it doesn’t mean this album was perfection. About 3/4th the way through songs start blending together. I think this is a combination of two aspects of the album. The first being the lack of variety in tempo. Pretty much every track is of one of three speeds: fast, medium fast and fast medium. The second would be a limited selection of song topics. A lot of them fall in the same general area. So I think it takes someone familiar with the genre to appreciate the subtle differences between songs. For someone who spends most of their time with other kinds of music, these problems will only be magnified. But I would hope that you take the time to give it a listen. You might end up being as captivated as I was and start a lifelong punk love affair.

Anything Else: The last song I would like to discuss is the hidden track Like the Band Survivor That Wrote the Song Eye of the Tiger. At roughly 2 minutes and 40 seconds, they start beatboxing a techno beat as a group making all sorts of goofy noises. What really stuck out for me was how eerily similar this was to the hilarious flash video, Strong Bad’s Email: Techno, which is legendary among my group of friends. If you have no idea who Strong Bad is, seriously consider checking out Homestar Runner’s website. It will make you better person. Probably not but it is freaking hilarious.

Additional Links:

Week 14 Review

Eminem has never been afraid to share his many struggles with fatherhood in his lyrics so it seems appropriate to review the soundtrack to the 2002 movie, 8 Mile, just right after Father’s Day.       

8milecover

Artist: Various Artists {Eminem, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, D12, Jay-Z, Xzibit, Macy Gray, Nas, Boomkat, Rakim, Young Zee, Gang Starr}
Album: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile
Year: 2002
Genre: Hip-hop
Rating: 3.95/5

Worth Your Time? It’s not perfect but the who’s who of hip-hop helps hold it up to the height of worth hearing.

Twitter Review: 8 Mile soundtrack reminds you why Eminem rose to super-stardom in 1999 and includes a great collection of artists around him on this album.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Eminem – Rabbit Run
  2. Eminem – Lose Yourself
  3. Gang Starr – Battle, 50 Cent – Wanksta (tie)

Things to Look For:

  • The Real PetermanWhile 8 Mile is not a biographical picture of Marshal Bruce Mathers III, it does share some similarities with Eminem’s life. This creates this blurring between Eminem and the character he played, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr., on the songs which Eminem raps. Sometimes he’s rapping as B-Rabbit and other times he’s himself. In one particular line he raps “… it’s no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer, this is my life” but in reality Phifer plays the character Future, who is based on his best friend, the late Proof. So much like the logic of Seinfeld’s The Muffin Tops episode, Marshal has his Phifer.
  • Who’s Who of Hip-Hop. Jay-Z’s 8 Miles and Runnin’ is entertaining as he picks apart those trying to take advantage of his success by claiming they were there from the start. Nas claims his crown in U Wanna Be Me with great lines such as “Pay me a half a million, I’ll consult your album and show you how to stay off my dick.” This track is actually aimed directly at his fellow trackmate Jay-Z. Rakim spits fierce fire in R.A.K.I.M. and there’s no doubt why Rakim is considered by many to be the greatest and most influential MC of all-time. Rakim was part of the golden era of hip-hop in the 80’s as he released several incredibly important albums with DJ Eric B. In Places To Go, 50 Cent delivers some textbook-perfect, laid-back flow that delighted me every time I heard it. Finally, Gang Starr brings some fantastic turntablism and old school boasting to the soundtrack with Battle. Sadly, Guru, Gang Starr’s MC, died while in a coma after a heart attack in 2010.
  • Eminem. While Eminem’s supporting cast certainly helps with the soundtrack, Eminem absolutely owns this album like he should. Lose Yourself is widely celebrated as one of Eminem’s best songs as it reached #1 on 24 charts worldwide, earned him numerous awards and was placed on many all-time best lists. Many of these awards and lists encompassed all genres instead of being hip-hop specific which really shows just how successful this song was. So why did I put Rabbit Run above it? It has no hook, compelling or otherwise. It has no driving guitar riff. Instead, it has just one long epic and intense delivery by Eminem from the perspective of Rabbit dealing with personal struggles of writing and life. It uses an aggressive back beat that slowly swallows up the listener but unexpectedly and abruptly stops. Then Eminem delivers the final line: “Rabbit, run” leaving the listener with a single haunting bell ring that fades out to end the album. It is without a doubt the best ending of I have ever heard for a soundtrack. And that is why I put it above Lose Yourself.
  • Slow Your Roll. While most of the album is incredibly aggressive to the point where I felt like I wanted to start something and throw down in the hallways of work as I listened to this album on repeat all week, there are two tracks that helped break up all the testosterone being pumped into my veins: Time of My Life by Macy Gray and Wasting My Time by Boomkat. For all you Orange is the New Black fans, one half of Boomkat is Taryn Manning who plays Pennsatucky. She also had a part in 8 Mile as well. Of the two, I prefer Wasting My Time but I think they are both good.

Low Points: Ellway ethay irstfay owlay ointpay isway ettypray easyway.
Itway isway enwhay Eminemway apsray inway igpay atinlay uringday D12’s Ethay Apray Amegay. Itway omescay offway asway ornycay.

The second point is pretty much the entire song, Love Me, which features the chorus of “I just wanna love ya, for the rest of my life I wanna hold you in the mornin, hold you through the night” by a female singer. This is surrounded with insults from the male rappers on the track like “I don’t love you bitch” and being preceded with the line “And all the bitches say…” which all this may have been tolerable if the verses in between weren’t as forgettable as they were. 50 Cent’s in particular is forever lost to time as it loaded with insignificant pop culture references that I don’t think anybody cares about 12 years later.

My final low point features Obie Trice’s Adrenaline Rush where Obie proceeds to rhyme the word muthafucka 10 times in a row. Now you would think that maybe he would have done something clever like rhyme the word before it in each of the lines but nope. So to me it comes off as a lazy 10 lines.

Anything Else: I was absolutely convinced that Eminem had sampled a classic rock song for Lose Yourself. It sounded so familiar. The most likely candidate for me was Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. But no. The song is completely original and samples nothing. In fact after I read a forum post on the analysis of the guitar riff I felt silly for even thinking it. Not the first time I was wrong about a song. And it won’t be the last.

Finally, there’s a sequel to this album: More Music from 8 Mile. Your first thought might be why would I want to listen to a bunch of tracks not good enough to be on the original soundtrack release? The answer is pretty simple. The second album only includes songs from the movie that were released in 1995 which is the year the movie took place in. I thought that was rather clever. I haven’t listened to it yet but it looks like a strong collection with songs from Wu-Tang, B.I.G. and 2Pac included.

Additional Links:

Week 11 Review

Seeing that Blended just opened on the 23rd, I could not have timed this week’s review any better. I’m reviewing the soundtrack to an earlier Sandler/Barrymore romantic comedy: 50 First Dates.       

Album: 50 First Dates: Love Songs from the Original Motion Picture
Year: 2004
Genre: Movie Soundtrack
Rating: 4/5

Worth Your Time? It’s really enjoyable background music.

Twitter Review: Basically, the soundtrack is reggae/ska covers of new wave songs. It sounds like a great idea on a paper and it’s actually executed well too.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Your Love (L.O.V.E. Reggae Mix) by Wyclef Jean (original by Outfield)
  2. Drive by Ziggy Marley (original by The Cars)
  3. Hold Me Now by Wayne Wonder (original by The Thompson Twins)

Things Not to Look For (cause they ain’t there):

  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The beautiful, heartwarming, tear-jerking, make you want to hug the person next to you as tight as you can and never let go Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley that plays at the end of the movie is not there. Iz died before his 40th birthday but I don’t think his music will ever be forgotten. He was incredibly respected in Hawaii with 10,000 people attending the funeral and the state flag being flown at half-staff.
  • The Beach Boys. Wouldn’t It Be Nice even though it was heavily featured in the movie including the hilarious cry-a-long by Adam Sandler is sadly not there.
  • Ula. Ula’s Luau Song isn’t even on it! I know you’re as disappointed and frustrated as me about that but they did include Forgetful Lucy at the end to help heal the deep wounds of an Ula-less album.

Low Points: There aren’t really any low points. And it doesn’t have any particular high points either because it is after all just a collection of pop songs from a movie. So I’m not saying the album is a masterpiece or anything despite my above average rating. And it’s not something you would listen to while doing nothing so you can really soak in the masterful attention to the tiniest of details. But maybe you’re cleaning up the kitchen on a Saturday morning or driving to the grocery store, then by all means queue it up on your smartphone and enjoy yourself. I don’t think there’s a bad track on the entire album.

Anything Else: It looks like every cover featured on the soundtrack was specifically created for the movie. So this is the only place you’re going to find these songs. It shows they put some effort into this and didn’t try to grab a bunch of pre-existing covers. I guess part of the reason I’m so impressed with this album is I’ve listened to countless cross genre compilation albums and most of them have been utter crap. It seems to me that the modus operandi is to get one or two good bands and then find a bunch of unknowns that work cheap to fill out the rest of the album and ship it out ASAP to try to make some money off poor suckers like me. I’ve been disappointed so many times. The songs covered were well-chosen and they had quite a few well-known artists participate. I’m ecstatic that I can even write that sentence.

There are a lot of people angry that this soundtrack failed to include The Beach Boys and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and I believe they have every right to be mad (there’s some seriously pissed off people on Amazon) because it’s a completely reasonable expectation. But the fact that they actually pulled off a reggae goes new wave album that doesn’t suck more than makes up for it from my perspective.

Additional Links: